India in Davis Cup World Group after 11 years (Roundup)September 21st, 2009 - 1:01 am ICT by IANS
Johannesburg, Sep 20 (IANS) Somdev Devvarman carried India to the elite World Group for the first time in 11 years with a sensational 4-6, 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-4 win over South Africa’s Rik De Voest in the first reverse singles of play-off at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena here Sunday.
India won the tie 4-1 as 17-year-old junior Australian Open champion,Yuki Bhambri, came up with a splendid performance in rallying from a set down to put it across Izak van der Merwe 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the inconsequantial fifth rubber reduced to best of three sets after India took unbeatable 3-1 lead.
India, who last played in the World Group finals in 1998, needed to win just one reverse singles Sunday to wrap up the tie in their favour.
The visitors had won both their opening singles for a 2-0 lead Friday with Somdev beating Izak Van Der Merwe and Rohan Bopanna playing a superb game to outclass De Voest.
But the visiotrs conceded the doubles tie to South Africans Wesley Moodie and Jeff Coetzee Saturday as Mahesh Bhupathi suffered a groin injury.
Somdev, who shares the same coach with De Voest, stunned his South African practice partner and the vociferous home crowd with his inspiring fighback in a near five-hour slugfest.
“It is a wonderful feeling to see India into the World Group. I was down two sets. I kept looking at the bench. My teammates stood behind me and that gave me the confidence to fight back. It kept me going,” an elated Somdev said.
“I was little nervous in the third set tiebreak. But after winning it and coming back into the match, I realised that it is going to be more of a physical game. I just let my legs carry me through the match.”
“Rik is a great player and a great practise partner. He made life difficult for me in the first two sets,” Somdev said.
After the doubles debacle Saturday, India were banking on Somdev to give the winning point.
And the 24-year-old lived up to the expectations. The two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion showed a lot of heart in pulling off a remarkable victory.
In his brief Davis Cup career, it is the second time Somdev won the two singles matches, having done that against Chinese Taipei in February.
The start, however, was anything but a reflection of the outcome. De Voest played a scintillating all-round game, troubling Somdev with his superb net play.
The furiously fought five-setter went into long rallies, with both players grinding it out from the baseline, but it is De Voest’s crafty net play that gave him the edge in the first two sets. The Indian’s discomfort at net was apparent and the South African cashed in on the weakness with his chip and charge to volley, his backhand slice teasing.
For De Voest, his serve came to his rescue, bailing him out of precarious situations. The South African aced nine times as compared to Indian’s three. Adding to Somdev’s misery were also his whopping 20 missed break opportunities.
But the Indian hung on as he cut down on his unforced errors and smacked deep groundstrokes to pin De Voest at the basline.
Somdev dropped his serve in the fifth game of the first set, thanks to two successive forehand errors. He though had a chance to break back immediately, when De Voest netted a backhand volley, but the South African fired two solid first serves to consolidate a 4-2 lead.
De Voest’s serve was once again attacked by the Indian in the eighth game, that saw five deuces and four break points, but the 29-year-old South African survived all that and returned to break Somdev for the second time in the match, in the ninth game, to go one set up after a 50-minute struggle.
De Voest was in command in the second set, cruising to a 3-0 lead, but dropped his serve in the fifth game. When the Indian again broke De Voest in the 11th game, it looked that Somdev is back in the match. But instead he dropped his serve and the set entered the tie-breaker. The 76-minute see-saw battle went the South African way.
When the Indian, trailing 0-2, dropped his serve in the first game of the third set, it looked that the tie will hinge on the decisive fifth rubber. But Somdev fought back, breaking in the fourth game to enforce the second tie-breaker of the match.
A resurgent Somdev then broke Rik in the third and fifth games and when he served out the set in the eight, it was two set each.
A dispirited De Voest was then broken in the fifth game of the decider before Somdev, stroking fluently, closed the set and the match.
This was India’s first win over South Africa in three meetings. South Africa will thus remain in the Euro-Africa Group- I next year, while India will play among the top 16 nations of the World Group.
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- Davis Cup: Somdev, Bopanna put India in a commanding position (Roundup) - Sep 19, 2009
- Davis Cup: Somdev, Bopanna put India in driver's seat (Lead) - Sep 18, 2009
- Somdev clinches thriller, puts India in Davis World Group (Lead) - Sep 20, 2009
- Chennai Open: Yuki puts out fancied Beck - Jan 02, 2012
- Bhupathi's injury gives South Africa a lifeline(Lead) - Sep 19, 2009
- Somdev beats De Voest as India qualify for Davis World Group - Sep 20, 2009
- Bopanna's victory inspired me: Somdev - Sep 21, 2009
- Yuki starts his Davis Cup on winning note - Sep 21, 2009
- Fighting Rastogi goes down to De Voest in ITF final - May 15, 2010
- Davis Cup: Somdev, Bopanna give India 2-0 lead against South Africa - Sep 18, 2009
- The pressure will be on South Africa: Somdev - Sep 19, 2009
- Somdev puts India ahead against South Africa in Davis Cup - Sep 18, 2009
- Chennai Open: Indians flop in qualifiers - Jan 01, 2012
Tags: australian open, australian open champion, elite world, ellis park, groin injury, home crowd, indoor arena, jeff coetzee, mahesh bhupathi, physical game, practice partner, rik de voest, rohan bopanna, south africans, splendid performance, tiebreak, van der merwe, wesley moodie, world group, yuki bhambri